Focus this year is on bringing back Guangdong, Hunan and Fujian tourists – Tourism Office Director

Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes stated in an interview with Macau News Agency and Macau Business that until the end of the year, and apart from Guangdong, her office will focus on bringing back tourists from Fujian and Hunan provinces.

Cross-border restrictions between Macau and Guangdong have been gradually reinstated, the pandemic was brought into control, and since July 15 people travelling from Macau were allowed to no longer have to undergo the mandatory 14 days quarantine in the Chinese province, if they can provide a negative Covid-19 test and make a declaration of their good health through the health codes of both regions.

Last week, it was also revealed that the issuing of all types of visas allowing the entry of mainland residents in the Macau SAR – with the exception of tourism visas – will be reinstated first to Guangdong residents and from August 12, to residents of all Mainland China provinces.

“For the rest of the year, I would only be looking very much within our immediate vicinity. Meaning to say, Guangdong definitely, hopefully, we can have a little further afield in the mainland, traditionally, besides Guangdong, our next market would be Fujian, would be places like Hunan because of the rapid rail system. These are some areas that might be possible for us,” the MGTO Director indicated.

The recent spike in Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong has delayed the development of a Pearl River Delta travel bubble, but Fernandes hopes that by the end of the year the situation can be brought under control, as the neighbouring SAR represents an important section of local visitation.

“We would definitely see Hong Kong be back in the scheme as well in terms of numbers it is the second most important market apart from the mainland,” she noted.

The number of visitors to the city had dropped sharply in the first half of this year, by 84 per cent year-on-year to about 3.2 million visitors, of which 71 per cent came from Mainland China and 20 per cent from Hong Kong.

Then, in terms of airline connections and reinstating some possible tourism flows, the MGTO Director pointed to Taiwan and South Korea as the most likely candidates.

“Taiwan seems to have very good control over the pandemic […] We definitely want to see South Korea back, but then the issue is that the numbers have been going up and down, very volatile still I would say. So it doesn’t give us enough confidence to restart any kind of mutual travel bubble,” she added.

Fernandes also noted that Thailand and Singapore were also a possible but unlikely destination to establish travel bubbles with the SAR this year.

“Simply, people don’t feel at ease to travel. That is a lot of consideration still. For this year, I would say we are looking at the Chinese speaking markets,” she added.

[Read the full interview in the August edition of Macau Business magazine]